This year’s last launch of a manned spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) could come on December 21, a Russian space official said on Tuesday.
The launch of the Soyuz TMA-03M piloted spacecraft with members of Expedition 30 to the ISS was originally planned for December 26.
“We have adjusted the launch schedule with officials at Baikonur [space center] and a new date emerged – December 21,” Alexei Krasnov, the head of Roscosmos manned spaceflight programs, told reporters at Space Forum 2011.
“I do not rule out the possibility that some new adjustments [to the schedule] could be made later,” he said.
The Expedition 30 crew comprises Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, European Space Agency astronaut André Kuipers and NASA astronaut Donald Pettit.
After the retirement of the U.S. shuttle fleet this summer, Russian Soyuz spacecraft became the only way for astronauts to reach the ISS until at least 2015, while Progress-family freighters have been the backbone of the Russian space cargo fleet for decades.